Leach career-best sees Somerset to Old Trafford draw

Leach career-best sees Somerset to Old Trafford draw

Jack Leach. © Luke Adams

 

It was a day that began with few expecting any other outcome than a robust handshake between captains and an early Solero in the sun.

Ultimately, that’s exactly what it turned out to be. The hottest day of the year, heck the hottest May bank holiday on record, culminating in a run-fest petering out to stalemate.

For a while though, either side of lunch, Matt Parkinson threatened to change those early-morning views, implanting a sense of trepidation in Somerset followers and a hint of optimism within those Red Rose at heart.

The leg-spinner struck early, removing the dangerous Australian Matt Renshaw with only the second ball he bowled in the second over of the morning.

That meant Somerset still trailed by 12, having resumed 51-0, but on a pitch that still appeared fantastic to bat on having yielded over 900 runs in the first two innings.

First innings centurion George Bartlett became the first victim of James Anderson in the match, but a fifty from Steve Davies eased the nerves that were starting to build for the visitors.

He would depart though just five balls after reaching that milestone, popping an inside edge to Steven Croft at silly point to give Parkinson a second.

The 21-year-old was Lancashire’s main weapon, finding turn and a touch of variation that would do for James Hildreth and Tom Abell either side of lunch, with the wicket of Lewis Gregory sandwiched in between courtesy of Joe Mennie.

By the time Abell had departed Somerset were 145-6 and had a lead of just 82. It was thought doubtful that Marcus Trescothick would bat after breaking a metatarsal on day one, meaning Lancashire were hunting another three wickets without conceding too great a lead. As it turned out, Trescothick was prepared to soldier on.

But England Test spinner Jack Leach would show prowess with the bat that would see his side to the draw. He raced into the 40’s, including lofting a superb six down the ground.

He was outscoring fellow England international Craig Overton and the pair took Somerset up to 197 when the seamer was trapped lbw by Tom Bailey.

Leach carried on his merry way, passing both his half-century and his first-class best of 52 – that score coming at Old Trafford last season.

At tea, the lead had reached 163 and was starting to edge beyond Lancashire. Even the new ball couldn’t spark the game back into life and Leach shared a fifty-partnership with Tim Groenewald and they took the lead beyond 200.

Leach ultimately became the fifth wicket for Parkinson, departing for a first-class best of 66, but he had more than done his job.

At 4.51pm, with the lead standing at 206, Somerset declared their innings – allowing both captains to shake hands and tootle back to the dressing room for something cold. Lancashire take 11 points, Somerset 10.

Over the course of the four days, those present at Old Trafford were treated to many things.

The weather was simply glorious, the ground baked in sunshine throughout the bank holiday weekend. Equally glorious was some of the batting on display, Marcus Trescothick and George Bartlett posting sumptuous centuries on day one, before Keaton Jennings found form and Dane Vilas racked up a massive 235 not out on day three.

And Parkinson’s performance will have caught the eye. Eight wickets in the match and five as his side were chasing the win, can only enhance the growing reputation of the young spinner.

Less glorious perhaps was the sight of certain members of the Old Trafford crowd deciding that speedos were the garment of choice – and nothing else.

Cricket in the sun. Can’t beat it.

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